Residents concerned with possible apartment complex replacing old school building in Norfolk


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The old Poplar Halls Elementary School in Norfolk closed in 2019.

Now, a local developer wants to include the property in the construction of a new multi-family apartment community.

The Breeden Company already has the adjacent properties under contract.

Chief Operating Officer Tim Faulkner, who spoke to City Council at the last meeting, explained the two sites combined would hold 364 residential units.

“300 on the front parcel, 30 on the school parcel and three single-family homes,” said Faulkner.

While officials with the Breeden Company say the project is in the concept phase only, many residents who live in the Poplar Halls neighborhood worry it could bring traffic and crime.

That’s according to Poplar Halls Civic League President Burrell Corbin. He says residents met with Faulkner at Monday’s civic league meeting.

“The feasibility is off, you’re in the wrong neighborhood,” said one resident at the civic league meeting.

Not to mention, Corbin says city leaders promised the civic league they’d turn the school into a recreation center years ago.

“We would like to see a multipurpose center here if we can afford a pool. If not, we’d like to have a place the seniors can come,” said Corbin.

Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer says he was made aware of the recreation center conversations, but the location is too small and inaccessible for that.

“I think we’ll have a lot better opportunity to locate a larger rec center more accessible in a different location,” said Filer.

Filer says City Council gave the Breeden Company 90 days to be the exclusive buyer under contract to potentially purchase the property. Once that time is up, they would revisit the land sale. Then, there’s rezoning and conditional use permit approval process.

“I think our work speaks for itself in the community and in Norfolk. And I will commit to you, we’ll work with the civic leagues,” said Faulkner to City Council.

At the earliest, he says the project could break ground in May of 2023.

10 On Your Side reached out to the Breeden Company for a statement:

“Representatives from The Breeden Company attended a civic league meeting last night for a proposed development project in the Poplar Hall area of Norfolk. The project is in the concept phase only. The Breeden Company’s attendance was only to introduce the company — a nationally acclaimed multifamily developer — and to educate the civic league on what the development process is and how it works. As we are very early in this process, there is little more detail we can provide about this proposed project. The Breeden Company is proud to work in communities across Virginia, and especially here in Hampton Roads, where we were founded 60 years ago. We look forward to potentially moving through the development process with the community.”

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